Wash the rice. This is one of the most crucial steps in creating a delicate pulao, where each grain of rice is separate from the other. Pour the rice into a large bowl and fill with fresh water. Gently wash the rice, running your hand through the rice without breaking the grains. The water will go smoky. Pour off the water and fill the bowl again. Wash, drain, and repeat 3 or 4 times until the water runs clear. By washing the rice in this way, you've just removed the excess starch from the rice so the grains won't stick together.
In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the canola oil until it's shimmering, but not smoking. Add the cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves - they should sizzle as they hit the oil. Saute gently until their woodsy aromas waft up into your nostrils.
Add the Ginger-Garlic Paste and the chopped scallions and saute 1 minute or so until they soften.
Add the rice to the pot, season with salt, and saute gently until the grains aren't sticking together anymore and the rice turns translucent, about 2 minutes. You should also start to smell the basmati's gentle aroma. This smell always reminds me of my mum!
Add the can of tomatoes and stir. Cook about 2 minutes to get rid of some of the excess liquid.
Add the water and salt and turn the heat up so that the contents of the pot come to a boil. Then turn the heat down as low as it can go, put a lid on it, and cook for 15 minutes. Don't take the lid off at all during this process! Once the 15 minutes are over, resist the temptation to take the lid off again. Let it sit 5 minutes off heat. This will steam the rice and give you a nice, fluffy pulao.
Finish with a flourish of peanuts and a sprinkling of the scallion greens and serve.
Throw the garlic, ginger, and canola oil in a mini-food processor and let it go until it forms a semi-smooth paste. There will still be tiny little pieces in there, but overall, it should resemble a paste.
Save what you don't use in a small glass jar. It should last in the fridge for 2 to 3 weeks. It's a delicious addition to marinades, pasta sauces, stir fry sauces, slow-cooker recipes, gravy etc. We always had a jar of this stuff in our fridge growing up.
Recipe courtesy of Aarti Sequeira